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Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Harissa

These citrus braised lamb shanks are served with a spicy green harissa. They’re cooked until falling off the bone tender and served with the sweet and tangy citrus juices.


A word that either conjures up visions of striped uniforms and shady bathroom stall killings or, a deliciously impressive, cook all day kind of meal.

We’re going with the latter today.

These citrus braised lamb shanks are served with a spicy green harissa. They're cooked until falling off the bone tender and served with the sweet and tangy citrus juices.

I saw a lamb shank on the cover of some random food magazine while in Barnes and Noble a few weeks back (because my husband acts like it’s 2001 and we still have to actually GO to bookstores to buy books).

Granted, this is the same man that said to me two days ago, “I just don’t GET what a hashtag is” so it’s not too surprising really and that hunk of meat has stayed in my brain ever since.

Here’s the thing, I never cooked a lamb shank before this meal (although I’ve since changed that and these apple cider braised lamb shanks have become one of my absolute favorite weekend meals!).

So when I got to the grocery store and saw them looking nothing like they do in this picture, I for sure thought it wasn’t the right cut.

I came *this close* to asking the butcher why the bone wasn’t sticking out so pretty like a perfect little caveman handle and if he could “fix” that for me but ended up chickening out and walking away.

These citrus braised lamb shanks are served with a spicy green harissa.

So, I went home and watched YouTube videos instead.

Convinced I had to “French” these shanks, I googled “how to french trim a lamb shank” and watched some weirdo long haired teenager hacking away at the bone for about 3 minutes. 

Not convinced that was the way to do it, I played around with different phrase combinations for about an hour before finally figuring out you really don’t have to do anything to the lamb shank after all.

Apparently, the meat kind of recedes up the bone as it cooks and creates the dramatic lollipop effect every cooked shank has.

Well, who the heck knew?

Without any fuss, after 3 hours or so of cooking, these citrus braised lamb shanks look like this, no bone hacking required.

These citrus braised lamb shanks are served with a spicy green harissa. They're cooked until falling off the bone tender.

Since it’s still cold as heck and dark by 5pm in these parts, there’s really nothing I enjoy doing more these days than cooking something comforting and hearty for hours during the day.

Between the smell that fills up the whole house, the heat from the oven and the warm meal when it’s all finished, it’s just perfectly fitting for this time of year.

This braised leg of lamb and braised veal brisket fit the bill for more recipes like that if you prefer one of them.

Although super comforting, this lamb is actually about as bright tasting as winter meals can get.

There’s citrus zest, juice and even citrus seasoned rice vinegar in this recipe which makes it sweet and tangy all at the same time.

No heavy sauces here, this is actually a really fresh and healthy meal.

The green harissa is definitely optional but there’s something about the combination of citrus from the lamb and the vibrant cilantro and spice flavor that come through in the harissa that just mesh perfectly in this dish.

It’s like winter meets the verrrrry beginnings of spring and I’ll gladly eat up for that!

Love this Citrus Braised Lamb Shank Recipe?

Then try other recipes like Apple Cider Braised Lamb Shanks, Peach Honey Grilled Lamb ChopsMoroccan Lamb Lentil Stew, and  Grilled Halloumi Lamb Burger.

Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Harissa

These citrus braised lamb shanks are served with a spicy green harissa. They’re cooked until falling off the bone tender and served with the sweet and tangy citrus juices.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings


For the Lamb Shanks:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 3 – 1 1/4 pound lamb shanks
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 large shallot chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 a lime juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup Nakano citrus seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

For the Green Harissa

  • 1 cup packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley
  • 1/4 cup packed mint
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 large jalapeno seeded (or leave seeds for more heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


For the lamb shanks

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • In a large heavy bottomed oven safe pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Season lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper and place them in the pot once hot.
  • Brown on all sides then transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pot with the carrots, celery, onion and shallots. Cook for about 7 minutes until softened.
  • Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, tomato paste, zest and juices to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the Nakano citrus seasoned rice vinegar and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook down for an additional minute.
  • Add the broth to the pot and place the lamb shanks and any of their accumulated juices back in the pot.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to the oven.
  • Cook covered for 1 1/2 hours turning the lamb shanks once. Uncover and cook an additional hour.
  • Serve the lamb over mashed potatoes with the sauce from the pot and the green harissa.

For the green harissa

  • Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.
  • With the processor running, drizzle the olive oil in slowly.
  • Scrape down sides as needed and process until a pesto-like consistency.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1SERVING | Calories: 764kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 679mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 38g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Cuisine American
Course Main Dishes
Keyword braised lamb shanks, citrus braised lamb shanks, lamb shanks with green harissa

More Nakano recipes:
Cilantro mango wild rice salad
Sea salt and vinegar beet chips
Grilled scallop citrus ceviche
Spicy rosemary tomato peach chutney
Turkey and sage stuffed apples
Brussels sprouts pumpkin and apple hash
Winter chopped kale salad
Beef and mushroom bolognese

Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

Recipe Rating


Sunday 24th of January 2016

This is absolutely gorgeous delicious looking appealing! Just amazing

Balsamic Dijon Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Monday 9th of February 2015

[…] for other Valentine’s Day dinner ideas? Pomegranate Flank Steak Citrus Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Harissa Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Stuffed Flank […]


Thursday 29th of January 2015

Holy crap Gina, these look amazing.

Arman @ thebigmansworld

Monday 26th of January 2015

Gina, I'm so glad to have come across your blog via the Facebook group- I've spent the better part of the last half hour just stalking all your older recipes and they look amazing! I LOVE lamb shanks and it's a popular meat in Australia- pinning!

Link Love Sunday | Add A Little

Sunday 25th of January 2015

[…] These citrus braised lamb shanks look SO tender! […]